February 21, 2006

Squash Beats Amherst, Wins Hoehn Division

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The men’s squash team stormed through its bracket at the College Squash Association team championships in Princeton, N.J., last week on its way to capturing the Hoehn Division Cup.

Cornell only lost two matches over the course of the entire tournament, defeating Tufts, Franklin & Marshall and Amherst. The three wins gave Cornell a winning record of 8-7 (1-5 Ivy) for the 2005-06 season. The performance secured the squad’s final national ranking at No. 9.

With seven seniors playing in their final matches for Cornell, head coach Mark Devoy was pleased with what the team’s results meant for the departing players and for the future of the program.

“It finishes their season well. They had a good finish, they all came out and played well,” Devoy said. “It gives guys something to work for the next couple of years, trying to hold that nine spot next year with a brand new team and a lot of freshmen.”

Cornell played its first match of the championships last Friday, facing off against the No. 16 seed, Tufts. Devoy didn’t expect much trouble from the Jumbos heading into the match, and his expectations proved correct as the Red easily handed Tufts a 9-0 defeat.

Cornell didn’t drop a single game in any of its nine matches against Tufts, as senior Willie Cheng, playing at No. 2 for the Red, gave up only two points in his 3-0 victory over the Jumbos’ Chris Delaney.

Cornell was back in action the next day, taking on a familiar Franklin & Marshall squad it had downed 9-0 just a week earlier. The two teams’ second meeting was no different, as the Red advanced to finals with a 9-0 victory over F&M.

The Red expected to square off against Ivy rival Brown in the finals of the championship, but the team was surprised to see No. 11 seed, Amherst, waiting for Cornell on Sunday.

Brown sat out its best player, Breck Bailey, hoping to rest him for an expected showdown with the Red, but Amherst came out firing and surprised the Bears, taking a close 5-4 decision.

“Brown dropped their top play to rest him for our match and lost to Amherst. You’ve got to put out your best team, I think, all the time. We put out our best team and the guys came through,” Devoy said. “We were looking forward to playing Brown because we had a close match early on, but it wasn’t to be. So we had to turn out against Amherst [because] obviously it was a good win for them and they were all pumped to come looking for us.”

Cornell stepped up its game, winning the top seven positions against Amherst, including straight set wins for senior co-captains Matt Serediak and Matt Greenberg.

Senior Ben Bernstein also pulled out a tough 3-2 victory in his last match for the Red. Bernstein jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but Amherst’s Kataum Calani battled back to even the match at 2-2, before Bernstein was able to pull out the deciding fifth game, 9-6.

“He had a lead but it was a quite difficult player to play. He had a difficult season, some close losses, and I was hoping this one wasn’t going the other way but he managed to pull it out,” Devoy said. “He kept his cool, which is the thing to do. He kept to the game plan.